Sandi Morris

Noah Lyles
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Noah Lyles set to drop new album “A Human’s Journey” on Saturday

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World 200m track and field champion Noah Lyles has taken advantage of his down time to finish up his latest musical work.

Lyles isn’t new to music. He and pole vaulter Sandi Morris teamed up with Swiss band Baba Shrimps to record a song called “Souvenir” last year. The video is full of highlights of both athletes. He has also released several songs on Spotify and YouTube under the name Nojo18.

The 22-year-old sprinter is known for his diverse interests. He posts his art and fashion ideas on Instagram, where he identifies himself as an artist and rapper in addition to his track and field accomplishments. World Athletics also asked Lyles to share his pre-race playlist, which includes a couple of songs by Kanye West along with tracks from Eminem and Travis Scott.

With the Olympics postponed and social distancing imposed, Lyles’ year has been unusual. He’s taking part in a USADA program in which athletes do their own drug tests at home, and like a lot of athletes, he’s training wherever he can.

READ: Lyles trains near woods and dog walkers

His musical partner Morris can empathize, having built her own pole vault runway.

The Olympic postponement is interrupting Lyles’ ascent to all-time greatness. In 2019, he lost his first 200m race of the season to Michael Norman by 0.02 seconds, then dominated the rest of the season, winning in Lausanne, Paris and Brussels in addition to the U.S. and world championships. He also won a pair of 100m races in Diamond League meets.

Lyles’ best time, 19.50 in Lausanne, was the fastest since Usain Bolt (19.32) edged Yohan Blake (19.44) in the 2012 Olympic final.

 

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A Humans Journey 4 Days

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Project runway: Sandi Morris, Olympic medalist, builds own pole vault setup

Sandi Morris
AP
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Sandi Morris set the bar high with her latest do-it-yourself project.

Soon, she will be clearing it, too.

The Olympic pole vault silver medalist didn’t have a place to practice and plenty of down time due to the coronavirus pandemic. So she and her father constructed their own pole-vault setup near Greenville, South Carolina.

Built out of plywood, the 120-foot runway is situated between a soccer field and a tennis court on neighborhood land two blocks from her parents’ place. Their pole vault project could be operational as soon as this weekend (they just need the landing mat to arrive).

Viewing is definitely encouraged — from windows for now (social distancing and all).

“There are tons of houses that can see the field from their windows,” said the 27-year-old Morris, who usually trains in Fayetteville, Arkansas, but traveled home to start the project with the Tokyo Games postponed to next summer and no foreseeable competitions. “So I’m being literal when I say they’re going to watch me from their windows. It will be fun.”

This project has been in the back of their mind for ages. Morris would always venture home and wouldn’t be able to stay long because she had to return to practice.

Now, her coach can simply send along a workout.

“This virus kind of pushed us to do something that we’ve always wanted to do,” said Morris, who finished second to Katerina Stefanidi of Greece at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The entire endeavor took about three weeks and cost around $4,000 (not counting the landing mat, which usually runs around $30,000 but was loaned to her). There’s a rubber surface covering the runway for better traction, too. No concrete was used so it can be moved (although, not easily).

Each day, the routine went something like this: Sandi would train in the morning while her father, Harry, worked from home as a geologist. When their day jobs were complete, they headed to the field — about two blocks out their front door — to finish the pole-vault project (friends volunteered their time, too, on property the owner gave a green light to use). The father and daughter would be down there until nearly dark. Most times, she would head home first with her dad saying he would be along shortly.

“An hour later, he then comes home. My mom’s like, ‘Where were you?’ And he’s like, and this is always the answer, ‘Oh, I was just tinkering,’” explained Morris, who’s earned the silver medal at the last two world outdoor championships. “This project brings him a lot of joy — and that brings me a lot of joy.”

The blueprint was provided by Scott Kendricks, the father of two-time world pole vaulting champion Sam Kendricks. The Kendricks family built a similar setup years ago in Mississippi (they’ve since switched to a fabricated runway).

It’s no easy task.

“Almost like building a skate-park — you can really mess it up if you don’t know what you’re doing,” Sam Kendricks said. “But I saw her running on it and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a fine runway you guys have built.’”

He’s eager to try it out — once shelter-at-home restrictions are eased and it’s safer to travel again, of course.

“Heck yeah. I’d definitely drive through Atlanta to visit Sandi and try that,” Kendricks said.

Maybe even a competition on it one day? The runway is mobile enough and could be moved to, say, the streets of downtown Greenville for an event.

“If you build it, they will come,” Kendricks joked. “Or they’ll ask to.”

To stay sharp, Morris is working out with recently purchased weight room equipment. She’s also enjoying some down time at home. She recently purchased a bunny for her niece (“scored some cool points,” she laughed).

It was one highlight after another last fall for Morris, who took silver at the world championships. Soon after, she married Bermuda long jumper Tyrone Smith. They’re currently in different locations, though, as he balances training for the Olympics with business school at the University of Texas.

Maybe down the road, a long-jump project.

“There’s not really a great place for him to jump here,” she explained. “There are high school tracks that have long-jump pits, but most of them don’t have a long enough runway.”

As for the Olympics being pushed back until next summer, she’s trying to look at the positive — no matter how hard it may be. Diamond League meets are postponed until at least June.

“Building this has been such an incredible distraction,” Morris said. “The pole vaulting here will allow me to just go out and have fun.”

MORE: NBCSN Olympic Games Week TV, live stream schedule

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Christian Coleman wins 60m at USATF Indoor Champs in history’s second-fastest time

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Christian Coleman overcame an average start to nearly break his 60m world record at the USATF Indoor Championships, a signal that the Olympic 100m favorite is in form to start the season.

Coleman clocked 6.37 seconds, matching the second-fastest time in history behind his world record 6.34 from 2018.

“I thought I had a shot at the record,” Coleman, the 2019 World 100m champion, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “We haven’t done a whole lot of speed work [in training], so I’m pretty satisfied.”

Coleman now has the four fastest 60m times in history. He beat a field at nationals in Albuquerque that did not include Olympic 100m contenders Noah Lyles and Justin Gatlin, who did not race the indoor season.

Nationals mark the last major meet of the indoor season, given the world indoor championships were postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak in host China.

USATF Indoors: Results

In other events Saturday, Olympic champion Ryan Crouser launched the second-farthest indoor shot put in history — 22.60 meters. It was six centimeters shy of American Randy Barnes‘ world record from 1989.

Shelby Houlihan earned her 13th national title and her second in as many days. Houlihan, fourth in the 2019 Worlds 1500m, followed Friday’s 3000m title by pulling away in Saturday’s 1500m in 4:06.41.

Olympic steeplechaser Colleen Quigley was second, 1.89 seconds behind. Elle Purrier, who last Saturday ran the second-fastest indoor mile in history, withdrew before the race.

Sandi Morris beat Jenn Suhr in a battle of the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and 2012 Olympic champion in the pole vault. Morris cleared 4.90 meters, where Suhr failed at three attempts.

World bronze medalist Vashti Cunningham earned her fifth straight U.S. indoor high jump title.

MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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